Diabetes is a long-lasting condition which occurs due to the body not being able to control the amount of glucose in the blood. According to experts, there are millions of Americans who suffer from this condition and a considerable percentage are likely to suffer foot ulcers throughout the continuum of this disease.
Because of diabetes, wound healing is put at risk, since wounds take longer to heal and recover. It is of utmost importance to be aware that a patient suffering from diabetes must take extra care of an injury, otherwise it will heal very slowly and can quickly get worse.
There are many important aspects that can impact the healing process in a wound if a person suffers from diabetes:
- Levels of blood sugar: This is where the problem begins. Increased levels of glucose in the blood causes rigidity in the arteries and constriction in the blood vessels. The consequences that increased levels of glucose bring along are quite extensive and contribute to the formation of wounds, severely affecting the healing process.
- Diabetic neuropathy (Nerve damage): If there is no control over glucose levels the nerves can lose sensation. This is known as diabetic neuropathy. When this happens, patients suffering from diabetes lose the ability to sense when an infection, wound problem associated with a surgery or blister is in development. Serious problems with wound healing may arise due to the patient losing the ability to detect the real condition of the wound.
- Inadequate circulation of blood: The constriction of arteries, veins or capillaries can lead to great problems including lack of oxygen and limited circulation of blood to a wound. Increased concentration of glucose in blood reduces the way in which blood cells provide nutrients to tissue. When this happens, the blood cells do not act effectively when counteracting infections. If nutrients and oxygen are not enough, the wound healing process will take longer than usual.
- Weakening of the immune system: People suffering from diabetes also experience a decrease in the proper functioning of the immune system, which is responsible for protecting the body against external agents and contaminants such as viruses and bacteria. Having elevated glucose levels pushes the cells in the immune system to not work as they should, hence increasing the possibilities of infection. According to experts in the field, there are certain enzymes and hormones which are produced by the body due to increased levels of glucose in blood. These are the ones to blame for an inefficient immune system.
- Infections: A weakened immune system makes it easier for patients suffering from diabetes to get infections. A patient with an infection is more likely to develop various health problems and experience a slow healing process. If not treated promptly and correctly, an infection can cause the death and decomposition of living tissue (Gangrene), the spread of bacteria and toxins throughout the body (Sepsis) or the infection of a bone such as osteomyelitis. Studies have revealed that diabetes is the main cause of amputations of extremities in the United States.
Enhance wound healing
There are a number of measures that a patient can take to enhance wound healing:
- First of all, the patient must be careful with blood sugar levels. It is extremely important to monitor glucose as instructed. By doing this the patient will be contributing to a more satisfactory wound healing process.
- Getting the right vitamins and nutrients by following healthy eating habits will greatly benefit the regulation of sugar in blood and improvement of wound healing. Also, consuming the right amounts of protein, vitamin C and carbohydrates is key to promoting the correct and fast healing of wounds. Consider consulting a health professional if special recommendations are required.
- Avoid applying pressure to the wound to allow better recovery of the area.
- Monitoring cardiovascular health is fundamental for a proper flow of blood in already-present wounds and those which might appear in the future.
- It is essential to be extra careful if neuropathy is present. Frequently monitoring the skin for possible injuries or wounds is important. Look out for any types of infections and immediately consult a specialist if any abnormalities are detected.
- Long lasting or chronic inflammation is not unusual in conditions such as diabetes. Practicing aerobic exercises aids in lowering high blood glucose levels and can significantly decrease inflammation. Physical activities also help maintaining an ideal weight, thus keeping high levels of glucose at bay.
- Smoking has a very negative impact on blood circulation and one’s overall health condition in general.
Achieving a successful healing process goes hand in hand with the appropriate and orderly management by a knowledgeable group of specialists who can properly diagnose and treat diabetic wounds. This will ensure the well-being and general health of the patient. However, it is important to remember that prevention is the key since treating an existing wound is more complicated and can lead to more severe conditions which might be harder to control and treat.